On Wednesday, August 10, in an international conference in Geneva, legislatures, political figures and jurists from Europe and the United States, together with human rights specialists and scholars of international law, while expressing concern for occurrence of another Srebrenica in Ashraf, called on the United Nations and relevant bodies to adopt urgent measures to protect Ashraf residents. By presenting political arguments and well-founded legal opinions, they declared that Ashraf residents are political refugees and that the High Commissioner for Refugees is obliged to immediately reaffirm their collective status as political refugees to thwart another lethal attack by the Iraqi forces on this camp.
Below is the speech by Maryam Rajavi in International conference of Geneva
Ashraf – Responsibility of the UN and the UNHCR
Elected representatives of the people of Switzerland,
Distinguished personalities and jurists,
I have come to Geneva on behalf of my compatriots, the families of martyrs and political prisoners as well as the residents of Camp Ashraf. I have come to the city of human rights, the city of refugees and the seat of the United Nations to convey their voice and to defend their trampled upon rights.
I also salute the late Prof. Kazem Rajavi, the symbol of defending human rights in Iran, who was assassinated in nearby streets by terrorists sent from Tehran. It was Prof. Rajavi who once said that, “We are writing the history of human rights in Iran with our blood.”
For the past four months, Iranians and families of the residents of Ashraf have continued their sit-in in Geneva.
This long sit-in as well as the unrelenting rallies and non-stop sit-ins and protests in Washington, DC, and in European capitals raise a question to which the international community, in particular the United Nations and the United States, must respond: Will they uphold their undeniable responsibility regarding the protection of Camp Ashraf or will they allow a repeat of the crimes against humanity, which occurred in July 2009 and April 2011 at Ashraf, only this time on a much larger scale?
The perpetration of crimes against humanity at Ashraf has not stopped. By setting a deadline to close down Ashraf by the end of 2011, the Iraqi government has in effect pulled the trigger for the perpetration of a greater massacre.
I believe that Maliki’s brazen refusal to allow European Parliament and U.S. Congressional delegations to visit Camp Ashraf speaks volumes about his intentions.
Last week, the Iraqi Prime Minister went a step further and talked about arrest warrants for 121 residents of Ashraf. He said that he seeks to file lawsuits against countries which would give refuge to the residents of Ashraf and even against courts, such as the Spanish Court, which accepted the complaints filed by the residents. He claimed that the courts had violated Iraqi sovereignty!
If it Maliki could, he would have handed over the residents to death squads, or sent them to prison or secret torture chambers.
Maliki has invoked the U.S. State Department’s terrorist designation of the Mojahedin to provide the kind of assistance to the religious dictatorship ruling Iran that it needs to suppress opponents and freedom-lovers in Iran.
Recently, the Iranian regime’s Intelligence Minister emphasized that he has been coordinating with Iraq to destroy the Mojahedin (Iran’s main opposition) as soon as possible.
Last week, the news agency affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps even sketched the scenario for another massacre in Camp Ashraf.
The round-the-clock psychological torture of the residents of Ashraf is continuing with the use of 300 loudspeakers.
Due to the inhumane siege, those wounded during the April 8 attack face the prospect of losing their lives and increasingly permanent physical impairments.
Due to the transfer of the protection of Ashraf by the US forces to Nuri Al-Maliki two-and-a-half years ago, despite vehement opposition by the residents of Ashraf, their lawyers and many human rights organizations, Ashraf residents have been denied the right to life, access to health care and treatment, the right to free movement, employment, the right to see their lawyers and families, the right to lodge complaints and all the fundamental rights of the members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran at Camp Ashraf.
Forty-seven residents have been killed and 1071 wounded at Ashraf and several have died due to the medical siege. Even death certificates are not being issued to the families and friends of those deceased.
The Pearl Cemetery at Ashraf, where 250 Ashraf residents have been laid to rest over the past 20 years, is under military occupation and the residents are barred from visiting the tombs of their loved ones. During the April 8 attack, Iraqi forces looted and seized 10 million dollars’ worth of vehicles, personal property and residential buildings. All the relevant documents can be published.
What has led to this situation?
The United States is responsible for Camp Ashraf, based both on its obligations under international law, its moral commitments and the agreement it signed with each and every resident of Camp Ashraf. In return for consolidating Ashraf residents’ weapons, the U.S. committed itself to protect them. U.S. Congress, as well as prominent and distinguished US policy makers, a number of whom are present here today, have repeatedly underscored the need to protect the residents of Ashraf and highlighted the responsibility of the U.S. Government to this end.
Yet, the U.S. handed over the protection of Ashraf to a government it knew was going to be hostile to the residents of Ashraf because of its dependence on and commitments to the Iranian regime.
In May, the European Parliament offered a practical solution for the transfer of the residents of Ashraf to third countries. But, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad put forth the unlawful and dangerous proposal to relocate the residents of Ashraf inside Iraq, which Maliki had demanded for the past two years. This has effectively hindered the implementation of the European Parliament plan.
This is while by supporting the European Parliament plan, the U.S. and its embassy in Baghdad can and could have infused it with a great deal of momentum.
The European solution, which is consistent with the recommendations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.N. Secretary General, has also received the agreement of the European Union’s High Representative on Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and a number of European governments.
Iraq’s Parliament Speaker, Deputy Prime Minister and Vice President have endorsed the European plan. The plan also enjoys extensive support in the U.S. Congress.
There is also an international consensus that displacement inside Iraq would only pave the way for the subsequent massacre of Camp Ashraf residents.
In addition to the opposition by Iraq and Europe to internal relocation, on July 21, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously adopted an amendment to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which makes it the policy of the United States to prevent the forcible displacement of the residents of Ashraf.
As Congressman Ted Poe emphasized at a hearing on July 27, both regimes in Iraq and Iran want the residents relocated inside Iraq. And Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, told State Department officials at the same hearing, “If there is another massacre, it’s you guys who are responsible for the death of these unarmed people.”
On April 15, Madam Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, underscored the need for an independent, transparent and impartial investigation and the prosecution of those who ordered the April 8 assault. She also called for the relocation of the residents to third countries.
Last month, in his report to the Security Council, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wrote, “I … encourage all stakeholders involved to increase their efforts to explore options and seek a consensual solution that ensures respect for Iraq’s sovereignty while also being consistent with international human rights law and humanitarian principles. To this end, I call upon Member States to help to support and facilitate the implementation of any arrangement that is acceptable to the Government of Iraq and the camp residents.”
Today, I have come to Geneva, the city of human rights and the United Nations, to ask for urgent action to save the lives of innocent, defenseless and unarmed Ashraf residents in the face of bloody assaults, threats, ultimatums and warnings, in a manner consistent with what was announced by the UN Secretary General:
1. The establishment of a United Nations monitoring team at Ashraf to observe what goes on in Ashraf;
2. The UNHCR’s reaffirmation of the group determination of political refugee status for residents of Ashraf, even on an interim basis, so that the residents would enjoy protection under international law and so a protective shield forms against Maliki, which justifies attacks by Iraqi forces under the pretext that the residents of Ashraf have no legal status now, even after living in Iraq legally for a quarter of a century; The High Commissioner for Refugees can prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Ashraf by adopting a simple measure in the context of the institution’s duties;
3. The immediate start of investigations into the April 8 massacre under the auspices of the United Nations;
4. Compelling the Iraqi Government to announce compliance with the call by the UN Secretary General to refrain from any use of force or violence, to end the inhumane siege and the psychological torture of the residents and to withdraw the armed forces from Ashraf, where almost 1,000 Muslim women are living;
5. U.S. and EU support for the European Parliament solution to transfer the residents of Ashraf to third countries and to provide and guarantee their protection until that transfer is completed.
In my letters to the UN Secretary General, Baroness Ashton and Madam Pillay, I have informed them that if they deem it helpful, Iranians and families of Camp Ashraf residents are willing to shoulder the expenses incurred by the UN in providing protection for the residents of Ashraf so that the allocation of budget would not face any delay or challenges as it passes UN and EU administrative procedures, so that the loss of innocent lives can be averted.
I also want to use this opportunity to request from High Commissioners António Guterres and Madam Pillay to act expeditiously because four months have passed since the great crime committed on April 8 but there have been no measures taken to prevent subsequent massacres and to recognize the refugee status of those who most deserve international protection, while threats are mounting. Now the international community and the Iranian people are watching UN institutions , especially high commissioners for refugees and human rights, and they are waiting for them to act.
Thank you all very much.
Wednesday, 10 August 2011